Now that the offseason is here I have been dissecting the Heat's roster while trying to figure out what to do with the information that I obtain. It's an interesting situation because most of the players will be playing in different uniforms come next fall. However, for the better part of the next three months the Heat's roster will remain intact. That being the case, let the abbreviated roster review begin...
While his numbers were slightly down from last year, he was still arguably the Heat's most consistent player this year. A move to the bench wasn't enough to bring Udonis down, and like Dwyane Wade, U-D brought his game to another level when the wins were most crucial to come by. His numbers significantly rose when March began, and by April he was averaging a double double/game.
Most of the time you can attribute a player having a great season to the fact that they are in a contract year, but I doubt many who know him will think that way about Haslem. He is one of the hardest working individuals to ever put on a Heat uniform, and we'll be damn lucky if Miami can work it out so he continues to put that jersey on for years to come.
Possibly the biggest (positive) surprise for the Heat this season was the play of Dorell Wright. He came into the season feeling healthy and ready to roll, but expectations varied due to his injury riddled and inconsistent early career. He had played in 139 games over 5 seasons, never playing in more then 66. Some would say that just getting through the year without any major injuries would deem it a successful one, but nobody could have predicted the success Dorell would have.
Entering this season we knew that he was an above average defender and that he had been working very hard on improving his shot over the past several years. Despite the injuries it appears that all his hard work paid off, and then some. He blow all his old stats completely out of the water, and the one that stands out most to me is his 3-point shooting. Entering this season he had hit 12 total triples at the rate of 21.8%. After a slow start, he hit 51 shots from downtown at 39% after January 1st.
I am really hoping that the Heat can somehow hang on to Dorell and continue to let him develop, but I'm guessing that there is some team out there that will offer him more money then the Heat will be able to considering they'll likely be on a very tight budget once their superstars are all signed up.
How come something going so good go so bad so quickly? Jermaine was having a pretty amazing season, shooting over 50% for the first time in his 14-year career and averaging more points and rebounds then he had since 2007. In my eyes, and I said this many times throughout the season, he was the x-factor. Assuming all the other components of the team continued to be constant, J-O's production was going to be the key to the Heat's success in the post season.
And that, my friends, is why Jermaine is in the ‘bad' category. I'm not by any means trying to deflect any of his regular season success, but unfortunately for the Heat when O'Neal stopped being productive the Heat couldn't make up for the vacancy his drop off left in the roster. When he hyperextended is knee on March 26th in Milwaukee, while we didn't know it at the time...just like when that iceberg hit the Titanic, the Heat's season was going down.
I really hate to take his awesome season and put it in a negative category, but this Miami squad's success was dependant on the team as a whole playing and producing together. After a season in which he averaged 13.6 points and 7.0 rebounds on 52.9% shooting, his team could not overcome his playoff numbers. 4.2 points and 5.6 boards while shooting a dreadful 20.5% is what, in my opinion, rendered the Heat unable to beat Boston in what was a very winnable playoff series.
By far the biggest disappointment this season was the play, or lack there of, of Daequan Cook. Despite getting several chances to play his way out off of the bench and back into the rotation, he could never make the timely plays or hit the important shots that gave his coaching staff the confidence to play Dae Dae.
It's downright baffling because we are all aware of his natural shooting ability, but the bottom line is that he seemed to lose his touch. He worked hard in the offseason developing his ball-carrying ability in order to add more elements to his game, but he should have just been working on his shot. Going back to last year, his struggles began after he won the 3-point shootout at the All-Star game. He had a very rough 2nd half of last season, and that carried over to this year.
He got a final chance to get himself back in the mix for the Playoff run in February, and in a 6-game span he shot 41.5% while averaging 12 points/game. Unfortunately, he followed that up with back-to-back poor shooting performances (7-of-24 and 1-of-7 from downtown) and that was all the coaching staff was willing to endure. Over the last 23 games he played in a total of 19 minutes and took just one single shot (a miss). Miami went 18-5 in those 23 games.
What many people, including yours truly, thought was going to be a perfect fit and a missing piece in the ‘Heat success' puzzle turned out to be a giant disaster. Miami needed a point guard to provide solid defense while helping D-Wade out offensively and it seemed that it was a no-brainer that Rafer could just seamlessly slide into the starting point guard spot.
Over a 2-month span, Alston played in 22 games for the Heat. He averaged 7.5 points while shooting just 35.5%, by far his lowest numbers since the 2001-02 season. A bruised hand that held him out of 3 games in late February was the beginning of the end. He was already losing playing time to Mario Chalmers, but he retuned from the injury for 3 games. In that 3rd game he played 7 crappy minutes and was benched. That would be the last time he played for the Heat in any capacity; he left the team for what he called ‘personal reasons' but apparently he just quit. While in the end I suppose you could say it ended up working out better for the Heat, it was still a pretty spineless way to go about things.
The Heat ended up suspending Alston after he left the team and completely shut himself off from any contact. He later said that he left the team to help his sister through a very tough time when she apparently attempted to commit suicide. If that is indeed the case then I can completely understand his wanting to be there for her and help her get through this in any way he could.
That being said, you don't just quit when you are a professional athlete making hundreds of thousands of dollars...especially the way he did it. If he needed to be with his family for a few weeks then that is fine, but just come out and say that. Why disappear and avoid all contact? Even if you want to keep things private, I'm sure that Pat Riley would have respected that had Rafer just been honest with him. Instead, it ended quite badly and while the whole ‘Alston experiment' didn't last very long, it is an ugly eyesore in the Heat's 2009-10 season.
So there you have it, my 2010 version of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly'. I would love to hear your versions because I'm sure there are some of you that have different opinions. I definitely could have included more in this, and if you could see my notes then you'd understand why I didn't...quite frankly I didn't want a 3,000-word blog entry. Guys like Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and of course Michael Beasley could have easily made their way onto this list, but in Super Cool's case I felt we'd beaten that drum enough over the past week.
I'm sure you also noticed that I leave the obvious person out of the equation. Wade is awesome and he played that way all season. He is one of the best players in the NBA, and many out there would argue that he is the best. With everybody well aware of that, I try to focus on the other guys a bit more.